I’ve made it clear that I am no fan of Sheldon Adelson, billionaire bank roller of GOP candidates and efforts to keep online poker illegal in the US. In fact, I no longer patronize any of his casinos because I refuse to give him a penny of my money just to see it used to support his corrupt causes.
This is a video by Tim James in which he shows up Adelson for the hypocrite he is.
Adelson has said publicly (and paid lobbyists and congressman huge sums to say) that online poker is bad because there’s no way to keep underage players off the sites. So James took some undercover underage players into Adelson’s prime Vegas casinos (The Venetian and Palazzo), and they had no trouble playing slots, table games, and live poker. They also ordered and were served alcohol. James was even able to solicit a prostitute at one of Adelson’s casino bars.
You’ll see all of that in this video, although it gets a bit repetitious — James isn’t the most subtle guy, and he makes his point with video proof in the first 3 minutes — but stick with it until 5-6 minutes in, when James shows Adelson claiming that allowing Americans to play poker online is the equivalent of putting a casino in everyone’s pocket. Smash cut to the PocketCasino device that Adelson encourages players to use in his own casinos, encouraging them to gamble from their rooms without the hassle of actually going down to the casino floor. Why, that’s almost as convenient as playing from home!
I must add that Adelson’s remarks about underage online poker players are true to a certain extent. For the last dozen years, plenty of under-21-year-olds have been playing poker on the internet, even after the so-called Black Friday of April, 2011, when major poker sites were forced offline in the US by the Department of Justice.
Ironically, while Adelson has been ranting against online poker, I can remember just a few years ago — before Black Friday — when he allowed PokerStars to hold one of its North American Poker Tour events at The Venetian. Perhaps it was at that point that Adelson realized this was a corner of the gambling market that he could not control, even with all his money, because someone else was already doing it so well he could not compete. So, since he couldn’t beat them, he’d instead use his riches to shove them out of the marketplace (at least in the US).
So far, Adelson’s efforts are working, and it remains unlikely that online poker will be legalized nationally in the US anytime soon. However, there are still sites like Bovada where online poker is available to Americans, and three states (NJ, DE, NV) that allow residents and tourists to play online against each other, but only within their borders and not in global player pools like those on PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Party Poker, which no longer allow US players to access their sites.
I was never a big online poker player, and I’m not yearning for the day when it’s legal again. I prefer playing live at a table full of players I can see and talk to, discerning who to target and who to stay away from, reading their tells and engaging in the social aspects of poker. None of that is possible while sitting alone in front of a laptop. But just because I don’t want to do it doesn’t mean no one else should have the right to. Each individual should be able to freely decide when, where, and how to spend their recreational dollars, not politicians and hypocritical billionaires.
[hat tip to Mike Budenholzer]
Previously on Harris Online…
- My Final Table Radio Show with Dennis Phillips just after Black Friday (4/20/11).
- An op-ed by attorney Josh Schindler about online poker after Black Friday (4/22/11).
- My column on the Full Tilt Poker ponzi scheme (9/21/11).
- My conversation with Ben Mezrich about his online poker book, “Straight Flush” (6/8/13).
- My conversation with congressman Mike Oxley about online poker legislation (4/1/14).